Category Archives: statements

Protest on Trial: Blog of Day 5

Day 5: Monday May 7

Cross examination continued of Lisa Fleming, the General Manager of the QV
complex.

Ms Fleming testified regarding the preparations for the Boycott Apartheid Israel rally
on 1 July last year. There had been two or three meetings in the leadup to the rally.
The meetings included senior management from QV and Melbourne Central shopping
centres, and a number of police including Rick Burkett from police intelligence.

Ms Fleming agreed that QV centre management deferred to police on the night
regarding arrests and removal of protestors from the shopping centre. Ms Fleming
knew that the police would have a line outside the front of Max Brenner, but testified
that the police blockade of Red Cape Lane on the night had not been part of the initial
plan.

Ms Fleming tesified a number of times that one of the concerns of QV management was “disruption” of the shopping centre due to the protests. According to Ms
Fleming’s testimony the safety of customers and staff was also an issue.

While there was no time frame decided for how long a peaceful protest would be
tolerated at QV, it was clear from the discussions with police beforehand that “if
disruption occurs there would be arrests”.

Ms Fleming said there was no discussion before the rally about potential charges
arising. She had never heard of the charge of “besetting” prior to the 1 July protest.

Ms Fleming gave evidence that there had been discussion after 1 July about the
possibility of civil charges against the protest group. Ms Fleming was asked about
a note made by Senior Sergeant Falconer dated 29 June that said “CPT Colonial
PT not wanting to pursue civil action.” She said her recollection was that any such
discussions happened after 1 July.

When asked about pro Max Brenner protests during the month of July at QV, Ms
Fleming noted the visit by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to Max Brenner during that
month.

Senior Sergeant Falconer of Victoria Police followed in the witness stand. On the
night of the protest Senior Sergeant Falconer was in charge of two details of Public
Order Management police and two details of the Public Order Response Team.

Senior Sergeant Falconer testified about the course of the demonstration. Initially
stationed at Melbourne Central, he moved to QV once the protestors had arrived
outside the Max Brenner store there.

Senior Sergeant Falconer testified that, after briefing the arrest teams, had approached
Vashti Kenway, who he knew from video of previous protests, and told her “Vashti,
you’re trespasing on private property, you need to leave, if you fail to move we will
make arrests”.

Senior Sergeant Falconer then went on to describe the sequence of events
including arrest of ten of the protestors by the POM/PORT arrest teams that he was
commanding. He also identified several other arrestees to his teams.

Under cross examnation, Senior Sergeant Falconer testified that he had never used the
technique of arrest teams before July 1 last year. The teams consist of five or so police
moving in to arrest one person at a protest. Falconer testified that his work involved
attendance at “a great many protests” in the CBD, but had never been in a protest
where he used this tactic before July 1.

Senior Sergeant Falconer testified that he instructed his teams that “people using
a megaphone, leading and motivating people with a megaphone”, would be “first
preference” for arrest, if an arrest situation developed. When asked whether, on the
night, the police had a policy of arresting protestors who were leading chants with
megaphones, Falconer replied “yes we did”, and indicated that this was one of the
determining factors in who was a priority for arrest.

Police had discussed the possibility of arrests “if the demonstration is violent or
illegal”. These included discussions about the charge of “besetting”. Senior Sergeant
Falconer denied the suggestion that the placement of the police line outside Max
Brenner was designed to facilitate a charge of besetting against protestors.

Testifying as to preparations for the rally, Senior Sergeant Falconer affirmed
that police, having discussed previous pro-Palestine demonstrations in April and
May, “were planning to arrest if certain events took place”.

Senior Sergeant Falconer also testified that the Police Security Intelligence Group had
liaised with the Community Security Group prior to the rally.

Senior Sergeant Falconer will continue in the stand when the trial resumes at 9:30am
in Court 22 of the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday 10 May.


Support the Max Brenner 19 Defence campaign

Stand up for Palestinian human rights! Stand up for civil rights in Victoria!

Oppose the criminalisation of protests in support of Palestine!

On 1 July 2011, the Victorian police viciously attacked a peaceful pro-Palestine demonstration in Melbourne’s CBD. In one of the largest political arrests in a decade, 19 non-violent protesters were arrested during a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) action against Israeli-owned Max Brenner store. Continue reading